Thursday morning: Gaze at the Moon and see where we are going

No, not in a spaceship!  Read Joe Rao’s note, below, then look at the last quarter moon in tomorrow morning’s sky (even after sunrise!) and picture how we move through the universe, without leaving Earth.  Pretty cool!

The Moon can be used as a celestial signpost. Take for instance the last-quarter Moon that will occur this Thursday. The Moon’s disc will appear 50 percent illuminated at 5:39 a.m., Eastern time. When in this phase, the Moon is positioned ahead of us as we move around the Sun. Indeed, if we imagine our planet as a ship, the morning side of Earth is the bow side. On Thursday morning, you will be looking forward in space along Earth’s orbit; the Moon will be 235,538 miles away. Earth travels through space at an average speed of 18.5 miles per second, and this is the speed at which we are heading toward the Moon’s place in space. And we will be there too  — at the point where the Moon is — 212 minutes after you look at it. Going to work or to school on Thursday, remind yourself to look to the Moon so you don’t miss this mental experience.

Joe Rao, the last time I checked, is an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester,  associate at the Hayden Planetarium (check out his blog there) and his articles have been published at space.com and in Sky and Telescope.

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